Single Mothers Outreach hosts annual gala

Honorees and artists join on the dance floor with their artwork during the Empowering HeArts Gala held at the Sand Canyon Country Club in Santa Clarita on Friday, 022324. Dan Watson/The Signal
Honorees and artists join on the dance floor with their artwork during the Empowering HeArts Gala held at the Sand Canyon Country Club in Santa Clarita on Friday, 022324. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Single Mothers Outreach held its annual Empowering HeArts gala and honored six parents for their resilience on Friday at the Sand Canyon Country Club.  

Hundreds of attendees applauded the Single Mothers Outreach board for its efforts assisting local single-parent household families to obtain numerous resources that help in their development and success.  

The organization’s largest event of the year was raising funds to further support services such as: mental health, emergency relief, and house relief among many other programs they provide, said Roxanna Topete, SMO director of program and services.  

The night also honored six single parents, three of whom are recipients of assistance through the organization. The six parents who were selected through a nomination process were partnered with local artists to create an art piece that told their story of parenthood and their resilience.  

Artist Brielle Oakley was partnered with Monica Castañeda, a single mother who migrated to the United States from Mexico 25 years ago. When Castañeda first arrived in the country, she was five months pregnant with her firstborn and began to sell handmade stitched napkin holders to make extra cash aside from her babysitting job.  

Oakley, who has been one of the artists for the previous three years, described the experience as inspirational and enriching. Hearing Castañeda’s story and connecting with Castañeda was not only a rewarding experience for her, but also a way for her to “bless someone,” she said.  

Intentionally thinking about her approach in portraying Castañeda’s story as best as she could, Oakley learned how to hand stitch to incorporate that into the art piece.  

“I actually learned how to stitch work, too, so that I could kind of incorporate her art into the art piece to further tell her story a little bit deeper,” she said. The stitchwork was created in the Mexican and American flag colors. “I had it radiate out of her because she just exudes so much victory and joy and triumph over everything.”  

Now almost three decades later, Castañeda has successfully raised two children, one who is a UCLA graduate and her second son is entering college for a better future.  

Executive Director Yorleni Sapp was overwhelmed with emotions thanking her community for supporting the organization for many years since it was first founded.  

“The challenges that single parents face daily are really shared by millions and millions across the country,” said Sapp. “It’s very sad to say that the United States is one of the countries with the biggest numbers of single parents and children. We have 21 million kids living in single-parent homes and that completely changes the future and the dynamic of their life.”  

“We can build a community where single parents can achieve a better quality of life, not only for them but for their children, too,” she added.  

Gallery: Photos by Dan Watson/The Signal

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